How to Finish Indoor Cedar Furniture- 5 Best Finishes for Indoor Cedar Furniture

Cedarwood is ideal for various woodworking applications ranging from fencing, siding, and decking to indoor furniture. Although the lumber boasts unmatched beauty and durability, it needs special care and maintenance, such as staining and other finishes. Today, I’m going to walk you through how to finish indoor cedar furniture; stay with me!

Finishing Cedar helps show its natural beauty and grain pattern while protecting the structure from the elements. Further, it is important that you use the best finish for indoor cedar furniture– an excellent strategy to guarantee a durable project.

You will find a finished top coat easy to clean and maintain. For instance, water-based formulas clean up with water and soap, whereas oil-based ones work well with mineral spirits. This way, you can clean the furniture frequently to preserve its shiny and lovely appearance.

That said, check out the discussion below on Cedar’s suitability for indoor furniture and the best indoor Cedar furniture finishing products. You’ll also learn how to choose the most suitable formula and maintenance tips to keep it intact for longer.

Cedarwood is good for indoor use, especially when used to make chests or storage boxes. Usually, woodworkers use this lumber as an interior lining since it offers natural insect repellence and scent. As such, clothes remain intact and smell good throughout.

Moreover, Cedar naturally resists rot and decay and does not give in to humid conditions and moisture damage. So, you can comfortably install it in bathrooms and high-moisture environments.

Cedar has distinctive red and pink tones from the tree’s heartwood and yellow streaks from the sapwood. In addition, frequent knots give the surface a natural and rustic character, which is perfect for country-style homes.

  • Pros and Cons of Interior Cedar Furniture 

Interior Cedar furniture is a perfect choice for your home beautification project. The wood guarantees a lovely physical appearance and appealing scent. Moreover, it has excellent bug and moisture resistance for superior durability.

However, Cedarwood, like every other lumber type, has various pros and cons. Let’s discuss what they entail for better decision-making.

Pros of Interior Cedar Furniture
  • Attractive Surface. Interior Cedar furniture is among the most attractive wooden projects. It has dark reddish hues and can be stained or treated for a more beautiful and durable finish. Moreover, the wood’s uniform grain gives it a fantastic look for drawer linings.
  • Excellent Workability. Cedarwood, especially the Western Red Cedar is easy to cut and curve with small or big machines. Cedar furniture also holds screws and nails well and generously accepts glue, polish, and paint.
  • Lightweight. Cedar is a lightweight lumber species and is easy to use even in high altitudes. Moreover, it has sufficient moisture and is less likely to split, crack, or warp with varying weather conditions. So, Cedar furniture maintains its structural integrity for a long.
  • Temperature Resistant. Cedarwood features impressive temperature resistance qualities, making it suitable for furniture in environments with fluctuating temperature levels, such as a bathroom.
  • Durability. Interior Cedar furniture has moisture and chemicals that prevent insect, mold, mildew, and fungi attacks. As a result, the project lasts for 30 to 40 years, and even longer with proper maintenance.
  • Affordability. Thanks to Cedarwood’s availability, its furniture options are available at various prices, ranging from lower to higher. Therefore, you have multiple alternatives based on your budget.
Cons of Interior Cedar Furniture
  • Fading Color. Unfortunately, Cedar furniture changes its hue from red to gray over time due to chemical reactions. But you can slow down this progression by keeping the project away from sunlight and harmful UV rays.
  • Flammable. Cedarwood has oil, making it highly flammable. This attribute causes trouble for many interior designers who are forced to treat the wood. However, lovers of natural wood don’t take this well as it beats the whole purpose of working with natural Cedar.
  • Hard to Distinguish. Real Cedar furniture is not easy to identify and one can confuse it with other types. Worse still, a woodworking newbie is susceptible to deceit by malicious wood vendors.
  • Sensitive. Interior Cedar furniture is easily dented and scratched by pet claws. So, consider using polish and regularly maintaining the surface to preserve its lovely appearance.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Indoor Finish for Cedar

It is not prudent to grab the first indoor Cedarwood finish you see in the home improvement store. The product comes in multiple types, requiring you to assess various factors before making a decision.

So, take time to properly research the indoor finishes before getting one. For instance, look into the formula’s potential risks, such as toxic fumes, flammability, and environmental damage. Also, wear protective equipment when working with dangerous wood finishes and dispose of unused formula at local recycling centers.

Below are primary considerations to make when getting the best indoor finish for Cedar projects.

  • Appearance

Protecting Cedarwood from physical and environmental damage is the major reason for using a wood finish. However, the formula can drastically alter or change the lumber’s natural appearance. For example, although oils and varnishes preserve the surface’s natural appearance, they may add a slight golden or yellow tinge.

Generally, water-based products are excellent options for maintaining the lumber’s color, while paint and stains cover the wood grain and pattern for a more uniform and consistent finish. Hence, assess your desired final color before choosing the formula.

  • Durability and Resistances

Wood finishes protect the project from damage by providing a physical protection layer. The latter makes the surface resistant to harmful UV rays, chemical abrasions, scratches from pets and humans, and solvents.

However, not all formulas have the same resistance to moisture or UV radiation. Thus, read the product manual carefully to determine its compatibility with your project. For instance, indoor projects in high humid and moisture areas need a wood finish that prevents swelling and rotting.

  • Ease of Use

User-friendliness is another important consideration to make when getting a wood finish. Although this relates to specific products, you can also honestly assess your skills. For example, if you are a newbie, it is best to use a brush or a cloth. Otherwise, a sprayer may give you a hard time.

Also, test the formula before using a sprayer or attempting complicated processes, such as French polishing. This way, you can tell whether the application method and your skills are suitable for the project.

Remember, various wood finishes prescribe specific application procedures. Some formulas use a fabric dabber, while others use a brush or paint roller. Thus, confirm the manufacturer’s guidelines for the best application strategy.

  • Types of Wood Finishes

The type of wood finish also determines whether it works for your indoor Cedar project. Generally, the products are categorized into two types based on how they interact with the lumber, their final appearance, and the protection level.

These two categories include:

  • Penetrating Wood Finishes

These wood finishes give Cedar a more natural appearance as they penetrate deep into the wood fibers. Moreover, they protect the lumber against cracking, swelling, rotting, and drying. The finishes are as follows.

Linseed Oil. This product is easy to use with a cloth or a brush and gives Cedar a warm, yellow mate hue that darkens over time. However, it needs more time to cure.

Tung Oil. This wood finish highlights Cedar wood’s natural appearance while adding a lovely golden glow. It also has high durability and resistance levels, making it perfect for high-traffic areas.

Cedar Oil. This formula has an appealing woody scent and protects the lumber from swelling, rot, and insects. In addition, it features a warm, silvery-gray look that is perfect for indoor furniture and floors.

Danish Oil. This highly durable oil is a mixture of tung oil or boiled linseed oil, paint thinner, and varnish. It works best with a brush or a cloth and delivers a natural gloss or mate finish on wooden utensils.

  • Surface Wood Finishes

These wood finishes create a durable protective layer on the lumber’s surface. They are a better alternative for projects and Cedar furniture exposed to high-level wear and tear or high moisture areas. The finishes are as follows.

Stain. This product is commonly used to protect wooden surfaces from UV radiation and water. It also enhances Cedar’s grain pattern and comes in various colors to accommodate different preferences.

Paint. This formula is available in different colors and covers the target surface. Thus, it does not allow the wood’s natural appearance to show through and works best for doors, walls, and paneling.

Varnish. This wood finish delivers high resistance to moisture and UV radiation. Further, although some versions have an orange or yellow tint, it is often transparent and accentuates Cedar’s natural qualities.

Shellac. This mellow formula highlights the wood grain while delivering a wide range of color tones, like rich orange or blonde. It also accommodates spraying and brushing for satisfactory coats.

Lacquer. This product is a mixture of multiple finishes, including urushiol, shellac, and nitrocellulose. It is perfect for indoor cedar furniture, shelves, cabinets, and doors.

Polyurethane. This finish is a durable option for indoor Cedar projects. It is perfect for floors, furniture, cabinets, and doors, protecting them from abrasive damage and scratches. Besides, polyurethane is water-resistant and guarantees longevity.

  • Cost

Finally, the purchase and application cost of the indoor Cedar wood finish determines your selection. For example, stain, paint, and varnish are popular in the woodworking industry, accommodating professionals, DIYers, and homeowners. As such, they are cheaper with a container going for about  $25 to $50.

Further, if you hire an expert to complete the project or for remodels, the average cost is  $3.50 to $7.50 per linear foot, including the prices for worksite preparation, labor, materials, and delivery.

Best Finish for Indoor Cedar Furniture

After determining the most suitable wood finish for your Cedar furniture, the next step is to get the best brand. Fortunately, we have multiple brands that are compatible with various woodworking projects. Below are some of them.

  • Sunnyside Corporation Boiled Linseed Oil

Boiled Linseed Oil fortifies oil-based formulas and coatings, guaranteeing a quality fine wood and antique finish. It accentuates the lumber’s natural hue and grain patterns while sealing the surface from watermarks, nicks, and scratches. The formula also increases the flow, leveling, and longevity of oil-based paints and enhances the final finish.

Sunnyside Corporation Boiled Linseed Oil brings faded and tired Cedar furniture back to life. It draws out the lumber’s natural shine and grain for a lovely project. Moreover, you can use it to stop rust in metal-wood structures.


  • This Boiled Linseed Oil is user-friendly.
  • It seals and protects unfinished Cedar.
  • The formula revives fades and weathered lumber projects.
  • It only needs 12-18 hours to dry before adding subsequent coats.
  • The cured finish preserves the wood from nicks and watermarks.
  • It delivers a lovely, glossy finish.


  • The oil has a strong pungent smell.
  • It has toxic chemicals and is not ideal for wood used for food preparation, like cutting boards.
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  • General Finishes Water Based Wood Stain

These finishes feature all the advantages of oil-based formulas. For example, they blend effortlessly with the surface, spread easily, can be repaired, and have more open time. Moreover, the stain allows controlled penetration, which reduces blotching.

This formula features high-quality pigments and produces rich, dark, and uniform tones on hard-to-stain lumber. Further, it is non-combustible, easy to use with low odor and fewer VOCs, and accommodates water and soap cleanup.

Therefore, the stain is a perfect ‘green’ environmentally-friendly product. Better still, it has more than 50% renewable resources formulated from sustainable raw materials that minimize carbon footprint. 


  • General Finishes Wood Stain is easy to clean with water.
  • It is easy to apply with a foam brush and you can wipe it off for a consistent color.
  • The pigment dries fast and does not come off or fade.
  • You can coat the stain with various finishes.


  • The wood finish needs more than three coats to deliver a satisfactory color.
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  • Tried & True Danish Oil

This superior penetrating oil finish delivers fast and easy application on interior Cedar projects. Further, it works perfectly for surfaces that experience food contact, such as salad bowls, wood utensils, and butcher blocks.

The oil darkens the wood and accommodates bare wood and already-stained pieces. You can also combine it with other oil-based pigments to get a superior wood stain.

Tried & True Danish Oil is made from 100 percent renewable materials and is free from harmful solvents. Even better, it does not have any VOCs, synthetic components, and heavy metal drying agents. 


  • This Danish oil is eco-friendly and does not harm humans, animals, or the environment.
  • It is food-safe and fit for use on surfaces used for food preparation.
  • The finish is easy to apply and accommodates brush and cloth applications.
  • It guarantees water resistance and superior durability.


  • Tried & True Danish oil is a bit pricey for newbie woodworkers.
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  • Minwax Antique Oil Finish Natural

This oil-based natural product delivers a soft, hand-rubbed, durable feel to interior Cedar furniture. Further, it is easy to maintain and highly recommended for interior projects like tables, cabinets, doors, and paneling.

Minwax Antique Oil FInish comes with easy-to-follow instructions. For instance, allow five to ten minutes drying time before buffing and recoat after 24 hours. Also, apply with a cloth or brush and consider two or three coats for the best result.

The Product guarantees an excellent outcome with proper surface preparation. Moreover, it will add color and beauty to your Cedar furniture to suit every style.


  • Minwax Antique Oil Finish works on both finished and unfinished lumber.
  • It is also excellent for interior wood surfaces like tables and cabinets.
  • The formula penetrates the Cedar wood to guarantee maximum protection and durability.
  • It is easy to apply and levels effortlessly.
  • This oil finish dries very quickly while giving a lovely rich color.


  • The formula needs chemical agents, such as mineral spirits, for cleanup.
  • The surface appears too shiny after application but dulls with time.
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  • Krylon Exterior Semi-Transparent Wood Stain

This transparent wood stain comes in a convenient spray can, making application easier. Also, it is beautiful, levels smoothly to leave a flawless finish, and withstands the harshest conditions.

Krylon formula is user-friendly as it delivers fast and even coverage. It dries to the touch in 15 minutes and allows recoating in 24 to 48 hours. Better still, it only needs a few light coats to deliver the desired color.

A 12 Oz. stain can cover about 20 to 25 square feet, depending on the surface’s porosity. So, you don’t need multiple cans for small indoor projects.


  • Krylon Exterior Semi-Transparent wood stain guarantees premium durability.
  • It offers easy, fast, and even coverage.
  • The finish cures into a lovely rich color.
  • It is water-repellent and preserves the surface from fading.


  • You need solvents like mineral spirits for an effective cleanup.
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  • Old Masters Series Gel Polyurethane

This oil-based gelled polyurethane produces a soft, hand-rubbed, craftsman-quality hue on wood. Further, it accommodates multiple hand-applied layers without brush marks, drips, or a pungent odor.

You can use the product on various surfaces, including furniture, woodwork, antiques, cabinets, and trim. It also works on previously-stained surfaces. Only ensure that the wood is completely dry before application.

Under favorable conditions, the formula dries in five to six hours and can accept a second coat. However, overnight drying is recommended in regions with high humidity and low temperatures.


  • Old Masters Series Gel Polyurethane gives a wipe-on poly application.
  • It guarantees smooth, seamless coats even for woodworking newbies.
  • The formula builds up quickly and fills gaps and surface imperfections.
  • It does not leave drip marks and dries faster.


  • You need more than two coats to get a satisfactory hue.
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How to Finish Indoor Cedar Furniture

Whether you’re restoring an old piece of Cedar furniture or furnishing a new one, a quality stain and finish do an excellent job. However, ensure you prepare the wood properly and follow the recommended application techniques.

This next segment gives a step-by-step guide on how to finish indoor Cedar furniture. This way, you are sure of a lovely and durable project.

  • Part One: Preparing the Cedar Furniture

Step 1: Sand Down the Surface

Cedar furniture has scratches and dents from machines at the mills, gouging during handling and transportation, or wear and tear. Therefore, sand down the wood before finishing. Otherwise, the finish will highlight and expose the scratches and dents.

Use 120-grit sandpaper to clear the flaws without damaging the wood. Also, sand with the wood grain to facilitate a smooth finish.

Step 2: Resand the Surface With a Finer Grit

Repeat rounds of sanding with 180 to 220-grit paper to eliminate coarse-grit marks from previous passes.

Step 3: Inspect the Wood

Confirm whether you are satisfied with the Surface. Then, use a high-intensity light or wet the lumber with paint thinner to accentuate the remaining blemishes.

Sand the wood again to remove observed marks. But do it gently to avoid worsening the blemish. Some regions may have quirks that cannot be removed completely.

Step 4: Wipe Away the Sanding Dust

Go over the Cedar furniture with a cloth and wipe it down. You can use any rag, but a tack cloth will pick up the most dust. Please don’t ignore this step, as it removes excess material and delivers a smooth, even surface.

  • Part Two: Staining the Cedar Furniture

Step 1: Test the Stain’s Color

Apply some stain to an inconspicuous part of the lumber, such as the underside or a sample wood piece. Observe its final color, and only start staining the furniture when you’re satisfied.

Next, prepare the stain by stirring the container. Note that shaking produces bubbles and leads to poor coverage.

Step 2: Apply the Stain Using a Brush or Rag

Brushes and rags are perfect applicants for most stains and guarantee more even coats. This way, you won’t leave puddles or uneven clumps. In addition, don’t let the brush or rag drip anywhere on the surface.

Blend the formula into the lumber thoroughly. Then, go over brush strokes severally to spread the coat and leave a smooth surface.

Step 3: Apply the Stain in Small Areas First

Start with drawer fronts and furniture legs to get familiar with the stain’s drying duration. If the coat dries too fast, you can re-liquify it by applying more formula. But this makes the surface darker so wipe off the excess immediately.

Once you know the precise drying time, stain the rest of the furniture piece. If the finish is not dark enough, apply several coats until you deliver the desired hue.

Continue applying the formula and wiping away the excess before drying. Then, wait for the first layer to dry thoroughly before adding subsequent ones. Also, complete one surface at a time for the best outcome.

Avoid doubling up the stain application on stained areas. It causes a color change and compromises uniformity.

Part Three: Finishing the Cedar Furniture

Step 1: Choose the Best Finish for the Cedar

Get the most suitable product for your project needs and personal preferences. For instance, water-based formulas are non-flammable, less harmful, and more eco-friendly than their oil-based counterparts. On the other hand, clear polyurethane gives a lovely protected coat.

Also, pick a finish based on the gloss level you want on the furniture. A glossy finish gives the surface more sheen than one with less gloss.

Step 2: Apply the Finish

Paint the formula on the furniture using a natural bristle paintbrush. A two-inch foam brush will also give the desired result. Only give the first coat enough time to cure before adding others.

Once the coat dries, gently sand it down and smooth it. Then, repeat the application procedure for the next coat. Remove bubbles on the surface by brushing back over a region until it smoothens.

Move with the wood grain and brush side to side, front to back on flat surfaces. In addition, apply the formula as thinly as possible and brush in rows to cover the wood evenly.

Step 3: Sand Every Subsequent Coat

Lightly sand each subsequent coat as you did with the first.  Then, use a vacuum or tack rag to remove all the dust. This way, you won’t have any dust nibs on the final finish.

However, you do not have to sand the last coat as it will remove the lovely shine and finished appearance.

Precautionary Measures When Finishing Indoor Cedar Furniture

Applying wood finish to indoor Cedar furniture sounds simple but needs you to adhere to a few precautionary measures. These instructions apply to both intricate and simple staining jobs. They are as follows.

  1. Safety Always Comes First

In any wood-finishing project, safety should be a priority. Thus, take the following safety precautions when finishing indoor Cedar furniture.

  • Do not work without protective clothing.
  • Remove bracelets, rings, and dangling jewelry before beginning the work.
  • Avoid loose and baggy clothes.
  • Work in a well-aerated area, especially when using oil-based and other toxic formulas.
  • Close cans of thinners and finishes after use as they are highly flammable.
  • Use flammable formulas in small quantities.
  • Store oily steel wood, rags, and cloths in a metal can with water to avoid causing accidental fires. Then, seal the container and dispose it of according to local directives.
  • Avoid distractions when working with power tools. Keep your phone away.
  • Label all your stains, finishes, and thinners to guarantee safety.
  • Do not allow playing pets and children in your work area. Adults should have safety gear.
  1. Get All Your Workplace Supplies

You need some essentials to guarantee the best finish for indoor Cedar furniture and guarantee your safety.

  • Safety Glasses. Most wood finishes have evaporating solvents that release toxic fumes into the atmosphere. Therefore, wear safety glasses to protect your eyes.
  • Safety Mask. Like the safety glasses, a safety mask protects your nose and mouth from toxic fumes.
  • Rubber Gloves. You should not handle varnishes, stains, and finishes with bare hands to avoid harming your skin.
  • Newspapers or Drop Cloths. Finishing the Cedar furniture on newspapers and drop cloths keeps the work area clean.
  • Rags or Cloth. You’ll need a rag or cloth to remove the excess wood finish and clean the surface after sanding. You can also use the accessory to apply the formula.
  • Spraying Equipment. Some products like varnishes work best with a spray gun. However, assess your competence level to avoid messing up the project. Experts advise amateurs to stick to rags and brushes for easy and better application.
  • Sandpaper or Power Sander. Invest in quality sandpapers with different sizes, ranging from 120 grit to 220 grit. Alternatively, you can use a power sander. Only ensure that you have the appropriate sandpaper disc with the recommended grit sizes.
  • Good Quality Brushes. Use high-quality brushes that carry more formula. This way, you’ll finish the application quickly without leaving bristles in the coat.
  • Stir Sticks. Always use stir sticks to mix wood finishes and stains with solvents and thinners. Otherwise, they’ll have bubbles and make the application more difficult.
  1. Get the Right Brush

Since most woodworkers use brushes, it is prudent to know the considerations to make when getting one.

  • The ferrule should be plastic or a non-corrosive metal.
  • The bristles should be long with flagged or split tips.
  • Synthetic bristles are best for water-based products.
  • Natural bristles are perfect for oil-based formulas.
  • Keep the brush clean and clean it with the recommended agent. For example, water-based finishes work with soap and water, whereas oil-based ones use mineral spirits.

Maintenance Tips for Indoor Cedar Furniture

Proper care and maintenance are recommended to enhance the Cedar’s longevity and keep it looking lovely. Further, indoor Cedar furniture needs different care compared to outdoor structures.

Cedarwood used indoors dries over time because of controlled climatic conditions. Therefore, apply a light wax or oil coating to retain the lumber’s luster.

Other maintenance tips include:

  1. Regular Cleaning. Clean the furniture frequently with water and soap to prevent dirt and grime build-up. Also, avoid using harsh chemicals because they can ruin the finish. 
  2. Periodic Refinishing. Any wooden piece shows signs of wear and damage during its lifecycle. Therefore, regularly inspect the surface and reapply the finish when needed.
  3. Deal with Discolouration. Cedar furniture may develop a grey patina as it withstands various elements. Use a Cedar-recommended cleaner or wood brightener to restore the original color.
  4. Address Cracks and Checks. Minor cracks are not dangerous as they don’t compromise the wood’s structural integrity. However, for aesthetic purposes, apply a wood filler that compliments or matches the Cedar.


The primary reason for finishing indoor Cedar furniture is to guarantee durability. Better still, wood finishing products enhance the wood’s UV rays, moisture, insect, mold, and mildew resistance.

Finishing Cedar furniture also makes it easy to clean and minimizes aging signs. Usually, wooden surfaces collect dust and allergens. So, you need a topcoat that improves its resistance to the elements.

Thankfully, the above write-up gives quality wood finishes for your Cedar furniture. Further, our top pick is Sunnyside Corporation Boiled Linseed Oil. It highlights the wood’s natural attributes and seals it from scratches and watermarks.

The formula is user-friendly as it flows and levels effortlessly to deliver uniform coverage. You can also use it to revive faded and worn-out Cedar furniture, making it ideal for new and old projects.

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